Laurence Donoghue: A Lion Among Lawyers

Attorney Laurence Donoghue is a man on a mission. Born in New York City to a father in the Aerospace industry, he moved around the United States frequently before eventually calling California home.

After receiving his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Mathematics from the University of California at Davis, Attorney Donoghue decided to pursue his Juris Doctorate degree at Golden Gate School of Law in San Francisco, CA. While there, he was awarded the National Computers in Law Fellowship- which is only awarded nationally to one deserving student per year- for excelling in both his legal studies and computer sciences.

As a result of receiving this prestigious award, Attorney Donoghue’s graduate education was financially secured. He returned to the East Coast to receive his Master of Laws ( LL.M), and upon graduation, he immediately began working for the United States Department of Justice. During his employment there he passed the District of Columbia Bar Exam, and his official legal career began in the summer of 1971.

Returning to California in 1973, Attorney Donoghue’s next career move was with the California Judiciary Council. Eventually, he began a long and rewarding career with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office where he put himself on the frontlines of justice for 25 years. His primary focus was removing criminals from the streets of Los Angeles who were a danger to society, and for four years he served as a Child Sexual Abuse Specialist.  During this time the only emotion that matched the heartache of looking into the eyes of traumatized children was the satisfaction of ensuring that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes spent significant time behind bars.

Simultaneously, from 1980 to 1990, he became one of five founding professors at the Simon Greenleaf Law School—currently Trinity Law School.  Professor Donoghue was honored by his peers, chosen to be the first President of the Faculty Senate, and also by his students when the law school student body selected him to be the first recipient of the Professor of the Year. For his distinguished and devoted service as professor of law, he was recognized by the Simon Greenleaf Alumni Association on May 7, 1993.

When asked about his most memorable case, Attorney Donoghue immediately began to recall the case of Ricardo Pulido of Carson, CA.  In the city of Carson, political intrigue runs rampant. With two former mayors sentenced to jail terms on charges ranging from extortion to money laundering- and a huge corruption scandal that rocked the city in 2002 culminating with several council members being charged with extortion, the inter-fighting straining the already tenuous bonds that held the city council together had long provided sensationalistic media fodder for certain publications in the Southbay.

When Pulido, an upstanding, civic-minded citizen who has served on several city committees and commissions, was charged with criminal extortion stemming from an incident involving local restaurant owners that occurred between November 14th, 2008-November 19th, 2008, the Vegas- style score keepers that watch over Carson like vultures over prey weakening in the sun, came out in full force in preparation of another proverbial nail being hammered into the battle worn city’s weathered reputation.

Enter, Attorney Laurence Donoghue.

Retired from the LA DA’s office in 1998, Donoghue was retained by Mr. Pulido on November 21st, 2008. Joined by Mike Norris and Matthew Kesler- attorneys for the other two defendants, he set into motion a sophisticated, pro-active, intelligent defense that included waiving their right to a jury trial in favor of the case being decided by Judge Eleanor Hunter.  Attorney Donoghue contended that the charges brought forth against Mr. Pulido were without merit, and even viewing the case through the lens of a former prosecutor, it was clear that Mr. Pulido was not guilty. With that serving as his guiding force, he put forth all his considerable legal experience to work proving it.

After a nail-biting period of time- during which the Carson watchers waited with baited breaths to trumpet the judge’s decision to the world, the Court finally reached its verdict.  On March 5th, 2010, Ricardo Pulido and his co-defendants were acquitted of all charges.

This verdict was due in no small part to the tenacity and skill of Mr. Donoghue.

Regarding the law and life, he holds a simple yet profound philosophy: Pro Bono Publico. This Latin phrase translates to ‘For The Public Good.’  As a prosecutor, he strived to be fair, non-prejudicial, and non-abusive of the system, and above all else, to put the victims of crime first. Though he “switched sides”, his philosophy remains the same: To serve the public good, primarily the underprivileged and deprived, by assisting them with navigating through the legal system he knows so well and respects so thoroughly.

A member of a local Carson Lions Club in Lions Clubs International, he has served in several leadership positions, and was recently honored as a Melvin Jones Fellow for Dedicated Humanitarian Services. In the words of Lion’s Club International founder, Chicago businessman Melvin Jones: “What if these men who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?”

Attorney Donoghue has spent his career being the manifestation of the answer to that question, and for that, he should be recognized.